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ITC Chairman Yogi Deveshwar passes away at 72, condolences pour in

Kolkata (West Bengal [India], May 11 (ANI): Legendary corporate leader Yogesh Chander Deveshwar, who spearheaded multi-business conglomerate ITC group as its chairman for over two decades, passed away on Saturday at the age of 72.

He is survived by his wife and son. In 2011, Deveshwar received the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian award.

Deveshwar was an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and Harvard Business School. He joined ITC in 1968 and was the architect of its aggressive transformation from a tobacco company to a conglomerate with a portfolio of products in fast moving consumer goods, hotels, paperboards, and paper, packaging and agri-business.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other prominent political and business leaders condoled his death.

"Shri Y C Deveshwar made a strong contribution to Indian industry," said Modi in a tweet. "His efforts helped ITC become a professionally-run Indian company with a global footprint. Saddened by his demise. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the ITC group in this hour of grief."

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote, "He was a giant in the corporate world. I have many memories of him as a distinguished captain of industry. Condolences to his family, his colleagues and his admirers."

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said: This is a personal loss for me. He had a key role in MP's development and industrialisation. My condolences to his family and ITC Pariwar."

Deveshwar was first appointed as ITC's Executive Director in April 1984 and became Chairman in April 1996. Later he was appointed as Chairman in non-executive capacity in February 2017.

"Deveshwar passionately championed the cause for sustainable and inclusive growth and the transformative role businesses could play in creating larger societal value," said ITC Managing Director Sanjiv Puri in a statement.

Harsh Goenka, Chairman of RPG Enterprises, said: "A titan, a friend, Yogi Deveshwar passes away, making the Indian corporate world poorer."

Ashok Malik, Press Secretary to the President of India, said: "Yogi Deveshwar combined individual energy with institutional ambition in a manner few others could. Anyone who knew him will miss him."

Between 1991 and 1994, Deveshwar led government-owned Air India as the Chairman and Managing Director. He was also a Director on the central board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Deveshwar battled British American Tobacco (BAT) during a takeover bid to ensure that ITC remains an Indian company.

Under him, ITC unveiled the e-choupal project which aimed at changing India's rural economy. The pioneering farmer empowerment initiative is now the world's largest rural digital infrastructure and is a case study at the Harvard Business School.

ITC Ltd now has a gross sales value of 10 billion dollars (about Rs 70,000 crore) and market capitalisation of 50 billion dollars (about Rs 35 lakh crore).

Deveshwar was born on February 4, 1947 in Lahore. He was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. In April 2018, he was conferred the CII President's Award for Lifetime Achievement. (ANI)